According to the annual Gartner survey of CIOs, virtually every organisation is changing and changing rapidly. More than 75% of those responding, claimed the organisation they work for is adaptable and ready to embrace change, with 95% fully expect their job to shift as digital transformation gains ground.

The top priority for the majority of respondents was driving growth in their organisation, with most expecting to do so by:

  • Creating economies of scale by undertaking more activities digitally
  • Seeking out and exploiting new revenue streams
  • Driving innovation to transform services and products
  • Placing a sharp focus on customer experience

The days when the CIO concentrated on driving costs down and improving cybersecurity are long gone, as the role now blends function with strategy.

Although embraced enthusiastically by many, the new approach brings problems, not least of which is the gap between the expectations of the C Suite, with the funding and culture shift they’re willing to allow to make those expectations achievable.

There are issues likely to arise in 2020 caused by this gap and the tendency for organisations to embrace wholesale digital transformation before they have implemented the necessary infrastructure and workplace practices – these include:

The Gig economy rules

One of the key issues facing any organisation with a reliance on digital technology is the perennial skills gap in the sector. Although a problem in its own right, a solution that relies on the so called ‘gig economy’, brings issues of its own.

The growth in remote working enables organisations to build distributed teams, able to respond in an agile, fluid and responsive manner. This approach uses the skills of workers taken on via the gig economy to quickly build teams ideally suited to specific tasks or projects.

The first problem is that the more distributed and temporary a workforce becomes, the more difficult it is to resolve data privacy and confidentiality issues. The most likely solution embeds stricter, more advanced cybersecurity controls and technology within the digital infrastructure of an organisation.

The second issue is that what a gig-economy workforce gains in flexibility and agility, it may well lose in terms of a longer term focus on the strategic aims of an organisation. The solution will be to combine permanent, full time employees with temporary specialists taken on as needed via the gig economy.

Privacy to the fore

Every time a major data breach hits the headlines, the issue of privacy and how safe the data customers share with organisations is, rises to the top of the CIO agenda again.

Measures such as GDPR were introduced to help to deal with these concerns and offer another layer of compliance for a CIO to deal with.

Issues such as the right to be forgotten, for example, need to be addressed across every aspect of an organisation, rather than data privacy becoming, as was often the case in the past, an issue only for those in the cybersecurity silo.

Delivering a return

Organisations will expect their CIOs to drive adoption of the latest and best digital technologies. The problem is that the executives expecting to be at the cutting edge, using technologies like AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA), also expect a quick and obvious return on their investment.

This requires a CIO to firstly evaluate every digital change on the basis of the business impact it will deliver, rather than simply as a piece of impressive technology. Then they have to adopt only those, no matter how attractive others might be, which are capable of delivering real benefits.

The second part of the role involves creating a set of metrics that measure the impact of new technologies to create an environment of innovation and change, whilst putting the organisation in a position where it can more easily take advantage of future technologies and emerging trends.

Security is essential

The latest certifications, like Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001, encourage many organisations to believe they’ve done all they need to do in terms of cybersecurity. However, this compliance should be regarded by CIOs as a basic framework for cybersecurity, rather than a comprehensive solution.

A stark illustration of this simple truth was offered by the WannaCry ransomware attack which struck the NHS in May 2017, which caused havoc. It caused 7,000 canceled appointments, cost £20m initially and a further £72m in clean-up costs.

Investigations into the attack revealed that, although the NHS was compliant with certifications like Cyber Essentials, it was still using unsupported and unpatched versions of Microsoft Windows and badly managed firewalls.

The lesson for CIOs and repeated with each similar attack is that basic compliance with accepted security standards is never enough, either within an organisation itself or across the third parties with which it shares the digital workload.

Unless your organisation and your partners have security embedded across every aspect of the workforce and woven into your culture, then no amount of certificates and accreditations will ever guarantee your security.

The backlash hurts

The modern CIO is well aware of the advantages offered by digital transformation and the impact it could have on their organisation. But they also have to cool the tendency of executives to treat something like AI or cloud computing as a panacea that will instantly transform their organisation.

This tendency to expect cybersecurity and product development to be transformed instantly overnight can cause executives to retreat to old and comfortable ways of doing things when the ‘miracle cure’ fails to take place. This backlash can put any organisation at a huge competitive disadvantage.

The task facing the CIO is to ensure that the executives they deal with, prepare for digital transformation as fully as possible before it takes place, analysing the data, workloads, and process involved in-depth, creating a detailed plan for the changes being executed – including a timeline to manage expectations.

It is reasonable to assume that a rushed shift to hybrid cloud computing for example, is a shift that comes with inherent danger that could well set the culture of an organisation back for years to come.

There is no need to jump into any decision and full consideration of all the emerging technology is not just possible but recommended. It’s an approach we can help with and one where our new Innovation Suite and our Cloud enablement workshop will add real value.

If you’d like more information or would like to arrange a workshop for you and your team, please get in touch before your competitors gain even more of an advantage.